In 2020, singer/songwriter Mothica found herself with a surprise hit in “Vices.” While the song’s style, pop, might not be for everyone, she ably embodies the aimlessness teens feel and what they chase to fill that void while caught between child and adulthood. Writer/director Eoin Macken’s Here Are The Young Men, based on Rob Doyle’s 2015 novel of the same name, captures that same understanding of youth transitioning into the real world with vivid clarity, culminating in a finale that makes total sense and is still somewhat shocking.
In 2003, Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman), Kearney (Finn Cole), and Richard “Rez” Tooley (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) just finished their last year of school before potentially moving on to higher education. They spend this summer of freedom getting drunk, high, chasing women, and wandering the streets of Dublin. Matthew accepts a job working with his girlfriend, Jen (Anya Taylor-Joy), while Kearney goes to the United States for a bit. Upon returning, his violent, sociopathic tendencies seem even more erratic.
One day, the friends witness a car running into and killing a little girl. Their reactions to this event are starkly different and set the trio drifting apart from each other. Kearney gets even more lost in his imagination as the star of a strange talk show. Matthew and Jen’s relationship hits a rough patch, while Rez begins to feel even more left behind than he did in school.
“They spend this summer of freedom getting drunk, high, chasing women, and wandering the streets of Dublin.”
The biggest stand out of Here Are The Young Men is the cast, as everyone does an exceptional job. Chapman and Cole share excellent chemistry, so even the writing leaves confusion, what these two friends get from each other remains believable. Walsh-Peelo effectively portrays the unsure but fun Rez, a character who could have just blended into the background with a different actor portraying him. Taylor-Joy brings her natural charisma to the role of Jen, almost breaking her out of the one-dimensional arena Jen finds herself trapped in. These characters’ hostility towards well, nothing, in particular, it seems, continually boils underneath each scene, and the actors make it feel genuine, adding an urgent menace to most sequences.
Macken directs the drama with a heightened style that elevates the emotions into something quite grand, almost operatic in scope. This ensures that the audience empathizes and sympathizes with everyone, even when they make questionable choices.
And that is a lot of good, but Here Are The Young Men does have an issue in the screenplay department. While a lot of the dialogue is pretty good and fairly realistic, aside from Matthew and Kearney, the characters are not the most fleshed out. Plus, it becomes increasingly difficult to buy that Matthew believes anything Kearney says after a specific incident, causing later scenes not to feel entirely authentic, which is a shame as so much of what came before feels real. But, the final 10-minutes, give or take, build to an engrossing ending that absolutely works, flaws and all.
Here Are The Young Men is a dramatic look at young rebels without a cause and the trials and tribulations of finding oneself. The cast is perfect, and the direction keeps the emotions and stakes high. Even though the screenplay does not explore every character’s backstory enough to work fully, the film is still an engaging coming-of-age story with an utterly brilliant ending.
"…the cast...does an exceptional job."